by Dish Staff
Surveying the last decade’s plethora of dystopian sci-fi narratives, Michael Solana urges writers to chill out and embrace tech as an ally rather than enemy:
Certainly dystopia has appeared in science fiction from the genre’s inception, but the past decade has observed an unprecedented rise in its authorship. Once a literary niche within a niche, mankind is now destroyed with clockwork regularity by nuclear weapons, computers gone rogue, nanotechnology, and man-made viruses in the pages of what was once our true north; we have plague and we have zombies and we have zombie plague. Ever more disturbing than the critique of technology in these stories is the casual assault on the nature of Man himself. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was people walking through a black and white hellscape eating each other for 287 pages and it won the Pulitzer. Oprah loved it. Where the ethos of punk is rooted in its subversion of the mainstream, famed cyberpunk William Gibson’s Neuromancer is no longer the flagbearer of gritty, edgy, counter-cultural fiction; ‘life will suck and then we’ll die’ is now a truism, and we have thousands of authors prophesying our doom with attitude….
Our fears are demons in our fiction placing our utopia at risk, but we must not run from them. We must stand up and defeat them. Artificial intelligence, longevity therapy, biotechnology, nuclear energy — it is in our power to create a brilliant world, but we must tell ourselves a story where our tools empower us to do it. To every young writer out there obsessed with genre, consider our slowly coalescing counterculture, and wonder what side of this you’re standing on. Luddites have challenged progress at every crux point in human history. The only thing new is now they’re in vogue, and all our icons are iconoclasts. So it follows here that optimism is the new subversion. It’s daring to care. The time is fit for us to dream again.